Accountability and Transition in ICANN’s New gTLD Program

Bringing accountability to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the little known yet hugely significant global regulator of the Internet domain name system, is always a significant victory. ICANN is currently expanding new top level domain names (TLDs) beyond familiar TLDs such as .com and .edu to hundreds of new domain names under the new gTLD Program. These TLDs involve high-profile public interests and are valuable resources, with companies competing to pay tens of millions of dollars at auction to win the right to operate them.

To date, ICANN has collected more than US$240 million from auctioning new gTLDs. Yet ICANN insists in handling the assignment of TLDs in a single-handed and secretive manner. The process of seeking recourse against ICANN’s decisions has seemed a long-shot to many applicants. Of the 18 Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings brought to date to hold ICANN accountable for its actions, only three claimants have succeeded: ICM Registry (.XXX), DCA Trust (.AFRICA), and most recently Dot Registry (.LLC, .INC and .LLP). All three were represented by Dechert lawyers. The Final Declaration in Dot Registry LLC v ICANN, added a new dimension to ICANN’s accountability: ICANN cannot avoid its responsibilities by contracting with a third party to perform ICANN’s obligations. The Panel majority’s thorough analysis of ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms revealed ICANN’s profound lack of transparency and due diligence.

ICANN’s Background and Recent Developments

ICANN is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. ICANN operates under a contract from the United States Department of Commerce, and remains organized on a multi-stakeholder governance model. ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws set out the principles and rules by which ICANN is required to operate, including that ICANN must “operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole” in recognition of the fact that “the Internet is an international network of networks, owned by no single nation, individual or organization”. ICANN’s Bylaws contain independent directives protecting openness, transparency and procedural fairness as ICANN’s “Core Values”. ICANN’s actions are governed by international law. ICANN’s Bylaws also provide for internal and external accountability mechanisms to evaluate the decisions of ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors in light of ICANN’s global mandate and responsibility. The ultimate recourse for any complainant is to initiate an external accountability mechanism called an Independent Review Process (IRP), similar to an international arbitration, where disputes are heard by a Panel of independent arbitrators and administered by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the international arm of the American Arbitration Association. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN. ICANN is currently in the news as it controversially seeks to sever its contractual relationship with the U.S. Government and fully transition to independent stewardship of its core functions. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN.

The Facts in the Dot Registry Case

With the support of individual Secretaries of State and the National Association of the Secretaries of State, Dot Registry applied to ICANN for the TLDs .INC, .LLC and .LLP. In its applications, Dot Registry made commitments to operate the registries for these sensitive TLDs with verification mechanisms in place to protect against abuse and limit registrants to legally registered U.S. entities. Qualified community-based applicants that satisfy a set of criteria established by ICANN, like Dot Registry, are entitled to priority over competing applicants for TLDs; if community priority is not granted, a community applicant, like standard applicants, must try to resolve the contention with its competitors, with the last resort being an ICANN facilitated auction in which the TLD is awarded to the applicant who places the highest bid. ICANN assigned the evaluation of community applicants to a third party contractor, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the course of rejecting Dot Registry’s applications, the EIU misapplied the relevant standards, failed to act independently, did not conduct due diligence and discriminated against Dot Registry’s applications.

After Dot Registry exhausted ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms, Dot Registry initiated an IRP. The issues for the IRP Panel were (i) whether the EIU and ICANN Staff are bound by ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and (ii) whether ICANN (including its staff and affiliated parties, such as the EIU) had, in fact, complied with ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and gTLD Applicant Guidebook in its treatment of Dot Registry’s applications.

The Independent Panel’s Ruling

By a majority of 2-1 the IRP Panel, held that ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors were subject to the principles set-out in ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The majority of the Panel also rejected ICANN’s submissions that the Panel had to apply a deferential standard to evaluate ICANN’s actions, instead conducting a direct examination of ICANN’s actions. The majority specifically found that the “principles of fairness, transparency, avoiding potential conflicts of interest, and non-discrimination” embodied in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws extended to not only to ICANN’s Board, but the Board’s subcommittees, ICANN staff and the EIU. The decision is important because of its holding that ICANN staff and third-party contractors are also subject to the obligations set forth in ICANN’s governing documents.

Turning to the specifics of Dot Registry’s complaints, the majority accepted Dot Registry’s submission that ICANN’s internal accountability process amounted to merely a “rubber stamp”, pointedly noting that ICANN’s Board Governance Committee (BGC) not only had the obligation to conduct a meaningful review but the tools to do so. Further, the Panel took note of the fact that all the communications between the BGC and ICANN staff went in one direction, with the BGC choosing not to ask any questions or seemingly make any changes to ICANN staff’s prepared decisions. The Panel then went on to consider Dot Registry’s submissions on the absence of any evidence of due diligence, transparency and independent judgment, ultimately accepting all of Dot Registry’s contentions that ICANN had failed to comply with these requirements. The Panel also set out in detail the evidence demonstrating ICANN’s staff’s constant supervision of and interference in the work of the supposedly independent evaluator, the EIU. In short, the majority found that ICANN had failed to uphold the values enshrined in its own Bylaws in the treatment of Dot Registry’s applications. ICANN’s appointed arbitrator dissented.

Future Implications

The Declaration will have far reaching implications for the future of internet governance as whole, and will serve as a powerful precedent for holding ICANN’s Board, staff and third party contractors accountable. It clearly directs the ICANN Board to undertake reforms of ICANN’s internal accountability process, criticized by the Panel as a “rubber stamp”. ICANN’s Board will also have to consider carefully the implications of the Panel’s finding that decisions to delegate community TLDs are not actually being made by an independent expert, as applicants expected, but that ICANN staff are intimately involved in the process and ICANN clearly retains final control over whether or not to grant community status to particular TLDs. It is notable that ICANN has already enacted reforms to strengthen its accountability mechanisms, though many feel such reforms do not go far enough and ICANN continues to limit oversight and accountability, for example by creating a deferential standard of scrutiny under the business judgment rule. In short, as ICANN proceeds with the IANA transition, reform and restoring trust and confidence in ICANN remains indispensable.

Conclusion

As with the .XXX and .AFRICA IRPs, in which Arif Ali, co-chair of Dechert’s International Arbitration Group, was also the lead counsel and members of the Dechert ICANN team played prominent roles, the importance of the Dot Registry Panel’s decision lies in its recognition that ICANN, as the regulator of the Internet, a global resource, must be held accountable for its actions. Today, ICANN is pressing for the privilege to oversee Internet governance without oversight by the U.S. or any government. This privilege comes with immense responsibility and requires accountability. As ICANN enters into the next phase of its transition away from U.S. government oversight, the global internet community will be watching to see whether ICANN undertakes much needed reforms.

Ubuntu 16.10 Beta Launches for Opt-in Flavors, Adds GCC 6.2 and …

Today, August 25, 2016, is not only the birthday of the Linux kernel, but also an important date in the release schedule of the upcoming Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system, as the first Beta was just launched.

Time flies when you have fun, and, whether you believe it or not, Ubuntu 16.10 is already in the Beta stages of development, but only for the opt-in flavors, namely Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, and Ubuntu Kylin. It appears that Xubuntu will be skipping this first Beta release.

Ubuntu itself no longer participates in the Beta 1 milestone, only the Final Beta, which is also the second Beta build for the opt-in flavors. And if you’re wondering what’s new since the Alpha 2 release, we can tell you that there isn’t much, mostly software updates and a few minor, under-the-hood improvements.

As you might know, we’ve already told you that Canonical will try to replace Upstart with systemd for the startup session, and there should also the unification and cleanup of the networking configuration through the implementation of the “netplan” project in the final release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak).

Other than that, most of the software packages have been updated to their latest versions, and among the highlights we can mention the LibreOffice 5.2 office suite and GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 6.2.0 compiler, as well as the latest stable and long-anticipated GNOME 3.20 Stack.

Yes, that’s right, most of the GNOME apps have been finally updated to version 3.20.x, including the Nautilus file manager, which was downgraded to version 3.14 in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), upsetting many users. As for the kernel, Ubuntu 16.10 still uses Ubuntu 16.04 LTS’ Linux 4.4 LTS kernel, but will soon be rebased on Linux 4.6.7.

Linux kernel 4.6.7 marked the end of life of the Linux 4.6 series, and it should land in the Ubuntu 16.10 stable repositories sometime next week, which means that you won’t get it in this Beta 1 release. However, the final release of Ubuntu 16.10 will be powered by Linux kernel 4.8, which is currently based on Linux kernel 4.8 Release Candidate 3.

Ubuntu 16.10 Final Beta coming September 22

The Final Beta release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) will be available in approximately one month from the moment of writing this story, more precisely on September 22, when we will finally be able to get a good taste of what’s coming to Ubuntu 16.10 this fall, on October 13, 2016. By then most of the features should be in place, including the optional Unity 8 session.

If you’re a fan of the other Ubuntu flavors, we invite you to check out our seperate announcements for Ubuntu MATE 16.10 Beta 1, Kubuntu 16.10 Beta 1, Lubuntu 16.10 Beta 1, Ubuntu GNOME 16.10 Beta 1, Ubuntu Kylin 16.10 Beta 1, and Ubuntu Studio 16.10 Beta 1, where you’ll aslo be able to download the Live ISO images for 64-bit and 32-bit hardware architectures. Happy testing!

China’s Top Search Engine Freezes Bitcoin Ads Without Warning

Baidu Inc. has quietly removed advertising for bitcoin and all other forms of virtual currency from its online service, two of China’s largest bitcoin exchanges say, signaling a growing wariness over the proliferation of online scammers.

The country’s most popular search engine froze cryptocurrency ads from Thursday, according to local exchanges OKCoin and Huobi. Huobi Chief Executive Officer Leon Li and OKCoin’s Jiang Anming, a member of its search engine marketing team, separately confirmed the ban to Bloomberg News. The company declined to comment.

Baidu has weathered a storm of public criticism of late over paid ads featuring everything from gambling websites to unconventional medical treatments, the latter blamed for the death of a medical student this year. The ban also reflects official sentiment. While China accounts for more than 90 percent of global bitcoin trading, its central bank has said it’s not a “real” currency. The People’s Bank of China, which is studying the prospect of issuing its own virtual currency, has taken steps to prevent bitcoin from becoming entrenched in the financial system.

“It could be a precursor to China being ready to push for a more nationalized approach to virtual currencies,” said Zennon Kapron, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Kapronasia. It could also be a case of consumer protection “as there have been cases of scams” targeting users “more prone to speculative trading.”

Digital currencies gained prominence with the rise of bitcoin, which is mined with high-powered computers and operates with a distributed ledger that contains the payment history of every circulation. Financial institutions are experimenting with that underlying technology but its volatility — and episodes such as the highly publicized hacking of Hong Kong bitcoin exchange Bitfinex — have made regulators wary of its speculative nature.

The Chinese central bank set up a research team in 2014 to study digital currencies and applications. It said in January it’s consulted experts from Citigroup Inc. and Deloitte LLP, though it didn’t specify what technology it would be using to issue its digital currency or how it would work in relation to the yuan.

Accountability and Transition in ICANN’s New gTLD Program

Bringing accountability to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the little known yet hugely significant global regulator of the Internet domain name system, is always a significant victory. ICANN is currently expanding new top level domain names (TLDs) beyond familiar TLDs such as .com and .edu to hundreds of new domain names under the new gTLD Program. These TLDs involve high-profile public interests and are valuable resources, with companies competing to pay tens of millions of dollars at auction to win the right to operate them.

To date, ICANN has collected more than US$240 million from auctioning new gTLDs. Yet ICANN insists in handling the assignment of TLDs in a single-handed and secretive manner. The process of seeking recourse against ICANN’s decisions has seemed a long-shot to many applicants. Of the 18 Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings brought to date to hold ICANN accountable for its actions, only three claimants have succeeded: ICM Registry (.XXX), DCA Trust (.AFRICA), and most recently Dot Registry (.LLC, .INC and .LLP). All three were represented by Dechert lawyers. The Final Declaration in Dot Registry LLC v ICANN, added a new dimension to ICANN’s accountability: ICANN cannot avoid its responsibilities by contracting with a third party to perform ICANN’s obligations. The Panel majority’s thorough analysis of ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms revealed ICANN’s profound lack of transparency and due diligence.

ICANN’s Background and Recent Developments

ICANN is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. ICANN operates under a contract from the United States Department of Commerce, and remains organized on a multi-stakeholder governance model. ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws set out the principles and rules by which ICANN is required to operate, including that ICANN must “operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole” in recognition of the fact that “the Internet is an international network of networks, owned by no single nation, individual or organization”. ICANN’s Bylaws contain independent directives protecting openness, transparency and procedural fairness as ICANN’s “Core Values”. ICANN’s actions are governed by international law. ICANN’s Bylaws also provide for internal and external accountability mechanisms to evaluate the decisions of ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors in light of ICANN’s global mandate and responsibility. The ultimate recourse for any complainant is to initiate an external accountability mechanism called an Independent Review Process (IRP), similar to an international arbitration, where disputes are heard by a Panel of independent arbitrators and administered by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the international arm of the American Arbitration Association. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN. ICANN is currently in the news as it controversially seeks to sever its contractual relationship with the U.S. Government and fully transition to independent stewardship of its core functions. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN.

The Facts in the Dot Registry Case

With the support of individual Secretaries of State and the National Association of the Secretaries of State, Dot Registry applied to ICANN for the TLDs .INC, .LLC and .LLP. In its applications, Dot Registry made commitments to operate the registries for these sensitive TLDs with verification mechanisms in place to protect against abuse and limit registrants to legally registered U.S. entities. Qualified community-based applicants that satisfy a set of criteria established by ICANN, like Dot Registry, are entitled to priority over competing applicants for TLDs; if community priority is not granted, a community applicant, like standard applicants, must try to resolve the contention with its competitors, with the last resort being an ICANN facilitated auction in which the TLD is awarded to the applicant who places the highest bid. ICANN assigned the evaluation of community applicants to a third party contractor, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the course of rejecting Dot Registry’s applications, the EIU misapplied the relevant standards, failed to act independently, did not conduct due diligence and discriminated against Dot Registry’s applications.

After Dot Registry exhausted ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms, Dot Registry initiated an IRP. The issues for the IRP Panel were (i) whether the EIU and ICANN Staff are bound by ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and (ii) whether ICANN (including its staff and affiliated parties, such as the EIU) had, in fact, complied with ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and gTLD Applicant Guidebook in its treatment of Dot Registry’s applications.

The Independent Panel’s Ruling

By a majority of 2-1 the IRP Panel, held that ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors were subject to the principles set-out in ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The majority of the Panel also rejected ICANN’s submissions that the Panel had to apply a deferential standard to evaluate ICANN’s actions, instead conducting a direct examination of ICANN’s actions. The majority specifically found that the “principles of fairness, transparency, avoiding potential conflicts of interest, and non-discrimination” embodied in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws extended to not only to ICANN’s Board, but the Board’s subcommittees, ICANN staff and the EIU. The decision is important because of its holding that ICANN staff and third-party contractors are also subject to the obligations set forth in ICANN’s governing documents.

Turning to the specifics of Dot Registry’s complaints, the majority accepted Dot Registry’s submission that ICANN’s internal accountability process amounted to merely a “rubber stamp”, pointedly noting that ICANN’s Board Governance Committee (BGC) not only had the obligation to conduct a meaningful review but the tools to do so. Further, the Panel took note of the fact that all the communications between the BGC and ICANN staff went in one direction, with the BGC choosing not to ask any questions or seemingly make any changes to ICANN staff’s prepared decisions. The Panel then went on to consider Dot Registry’s submissions on the absence of any evidence of due diligence, transparency and independent judgment, ultimately accepting all of Dot Registry’s contentions that ICANN had failed to comply with these requirements. The Panel also set out in detail the evidence demonstrating ICANN’s staff’s constant supervision of and interference in the work of the supposedly independent evaluator, the EIU. In short, the majority found that ICANN had failed to uphold the values enshrined in its own Bylaws in the treatment of Dot Registry’s applications. ICANN’s appointed arbitrator dissented.

Future Implications

The Declaration will have far reaching implications for the future of internet governance as whole, and will serve as a powerful precedent for holding ICANN’s Board, staff and third party contractors accountable. It clearly directs the ICANN Board to undertake reforms of ICANN’s internal accountability process, criticized by the Panel as a “rubber stamp”. ICANN’s Board will also have to consider carefully the implications of the Panel’s finding that decisions to delegate community TLDs are not actually being made by an independent expert, as applicants expected, but that ICANN staff are intimately involved in the process and ICANN clearly retains final control over whether or not to grant community status to particular TLDs. It is notable that ICANN has already enacted reforms to strengthen its accountability mechanisms, though many feel such reforms do not go far enough and ICANN continues to limit oversight and accountability, for example by creating a deferential standard of scrutiny under the business judgment rule. In short, as ICANN proceeds with the IANA transition, reform and restoring trust and confidence in ICANN remains indispensable.

Conclusion

As with the .XXX and .AFRICA IRPs, in which Arif Ali, co-chair of Dechert’s International Arbitration Group, was also the lead counsel and members of the Dechert ICANN team played prominent roles, the importance of the Dot Registry Panel’s decision lies in its recognition that ICANN, as the regulator of the Internet, a global resource, must be held accountable for its actions. Today, ICANN is pressing for the privilege to oversee Internet governance without oversight by the U.S. or any government. This privilege comes with immense responsibility and requires accountability. As ICANN enters into the next phase of its transition away from U.S. government oversight, the global internet community will be watching to see whether ICANN undertakes much needed reforms.

Ubuntu 16.10 Beta Launches for Opt-in Flavors, Adds GCC 6.2 and LibreOffice 5.2

Today, August 25, 2016, is not only the birthday of the Linux kernel, but also an important date in the release schedule of the upcoming Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system, as the first Beta was just launched.

Time flies when you have fun, and, whether you believe it or not, Ubuntu 16.10 is already in the Beta stages of development, but only for the opt-in flavors, namely Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, and Ubuntu Kylin. It appears that Xubuntu will be skipping this first Beta release.

Ubuntu itself no longer participates in the Beta 1 milestone, only the Final Beta, which is also the second Beta build for the opt-in flavors. And if you’re wondering what’s new since the Alpha 2 release, we can tell you that there isn’t much, mostly software updates and a few minor, under-the-hood improvements.

As you might know, we’ve already told you that Canonical will try to replace Upstart with systemd for the startup session, and there should also the unification and cleanup of the networking configuration through the implementation of the “netplan” project in the final release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak).

Other than that, most of the software packages have been updated to their latest versions, and among the highlights we can mention the LibreOffice 5.2 office suite and GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 6.2.0 compiler, as well as the latest stable and long-anticipated GNOME 3.20 Stack.

Yes, that’s right, most of the GNOME apps have been finally updated to version 3.20.x, including the Nautilus file manager, which was downgraded to version 3.14 in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), upsetting many users. As for the kernel, Ubuntu 16.10 still uses Ubuntu 16.04 LTS’ Linux 4.4 LTS kernel, but will soon be rebased on Linux 4.6.7.

Linux kernel 4.6.7 marked the end of life of the Linux 4.6 series, and it should land in the Ubuntu 16.10 stable repositories sometime next week, which means that you won’t get it in this Beta 1 release. However, the final release of Ubuntu 16.10 will be powered by Linux kernel 4.8, which is currently based on Linux kernel 4.8 Release Candidate 3.

Ubuntu 16.10 Final Beta coming September 22

The Final Beta release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) will be available in approximately one month from the moment of writing this story, more precisely on September 22, when we will finally be able to get a good taste of what’s coming to Ubuntu 16.10 this fall, on October 13, 2016. By then most of the features should be in place, including the optional Unity 8 session.

If you’re a fan of the other Ubuntu flavors, we invite you to check out our upcoming seperate announcements for Ubuntu MATE 16.10 Beta 1, Kubuntu 16.10 Beta 1, Lubuntu 16.10 Beta 1, Ubuntu GNOME 16.10 Beta 1, Ubuntu Kylin 16.10 Beta 1, and Ubuntu Studio 16.10 Beta 1, where you’ll aslo be able to download the Live ISO images for 64-bit and 32-bit hardware architectures. Happy testing!

Why the Winklevoss Brothers Are Still Waiting for a Bitcoin ETF

Winklevoss, Winklevoss Twins

The Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust may be inching closer to becoming the first bitcoin ETF listed on a major stock exchange, but that potentially historic date could be further off than some might think.

Announced three years ago by investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust continues to draw attention, despite delays. As it would trade baskets of shares tied to real bitcoins, retail investors have long seen its approval as a boon for the price of bitcoin and the ecosystem as a whole.

It turns out, though, that even in spite of imminent deadlines that suggest approval may be forthcoming, a real decision could still be months away.

After spending two years trying to get listed on Nasdaq, the effort picked up momentum in June when the Winklevoss brothers filed to move their application to the BATS exchange. Within two weeks of that change, SEC assistant secretary Jill Peterson opened a comment period as part of the approval process.

A 45-day period that started with that filing is set to elapse at the end of this week.

But according to analysts, the publication of the form on the Federal Register didn’t kick off a 45 day “clock,” but a 240-day countdown during which the SEC has any number of options.

ARK Invest analyst Chris Burniske told CoinDesk:

“It’s a long and winding road and there’s a big pot of gold at the end of it and we have no idea when we’re going to get there.”

The clock

According to the notice, the SEC had an initial period of 45 days to approve or disapprove the filing. At this point, the financial regulator has the option to expand the period another 45 days, and after that, another 90 days.

At any time during this total 180-day period, the SEC staff have the authority to approve the rule-change that would lead to the trust’s formal listing. But that’s just the beginning of the “clock” analysts say is ticking.

If the SEC staff are unable to reach a decision by the end of the 180-day period, there’s another 60-day extension during which the request may still be approved by the commissioners themselves.

In this case, that’s exactly what Burniske expects will happen, contrary to the sense on social media that the decision was imminent.

Speculation about the approval date first emerged on Reddit shortly after the initial filing. In the post, the commenters suggested a decision on the ETF itself should have happened as early as yesterday, 22nd August.

Delays and deadlines

However, since the form wasn’t actually filed with the Federal Register until 14th July – six days after the SEC filing — the actual first deadline is 28th August.

If the SEC is unable to reach a decision by that date, it could extend this particular deadline to 12th October.

But Burniske says he expects the clock will tick down to a commissioner decision months from now. The decision is just too “contentions,” he says, given the newness of blockchain-based assets.

The fact that the SEC is currently reviewing multiple digital currency applications, and the uncertainty following Bitfinex’s decision to try to recoup the losses of a $65m hack by selling securities, he said, will also likely influence the decision.

“The SEC will allow this to go forward when they feel comfortable and not a second before,” he said. “It would be a gold seal of approval for the birth of bitcoin as a new asset class.”

Bitcoin boost

Some may question the importance of the ETF, as technically, anyone who wants to invest in bitcoin already can.

But for institutional investors, there’s frequently restrictions that they can only buy registered investment securities, according to Spencer Bogart, a bitcoin researcher at Needham Company and a former analyst at ETF.com.

Bogart told CoinDesk that a bitcoin ETF would let institutional investors buy bitcoin while still complying with mandates that prohibit non-registered securities.

Two things are worth noting about this advantage. First, another key differentiator is that unlike other OTC investment opportunities, ETF investors don’t need to be accredited. Second, unlike those OTC investments a bitcoin ETF wouldn’t have a lengthy time commitment, and the premiums would likely be lower.

The “knock-on effects” of the presence of those new potential investors could include increased liquidity, which when coupled with a more diversified investor base, could reduce day-to-day volatility.

Bogart said:

“If a Bitcoin ETF brings additional capital to bitcoin, it would likely push the price higher and drive an increase in hashing power and funding for development – both of which would serve to further improve network security which, in turn, further enables all the use cases that make bitcoin great.”

Potential risks associated with a bitcoin ETF include trust in a third-party to manage private keys, in the case the ETF custodian, according to Bogart.

“Of course, that in itself would not be new,” he added.

Comments closed

Other concerns related to the potential bitcoin ETF were expressed during a comments period that officially ended on 8th August.

In total, five comments were submitted, none of which called for an outright refusal of the Winklevoss application. But, each presented its own concerns.

Senior Bloomberg LP software engineer and Hyperledger project contributor, Erik Aronesty, proposed that the SEC either require the assets be insured or that the public be allowed to give daily audits of the funds.

Other comments expressed concerns about the auditability of the trust; compared it to penny stock and Ponzi schemes; and inquired as to whether it will be insured.

But those comments aren’t the only reservation still being expressed by market observers.

The head of technology research at Wedbush Securites, Gil Luria, acknowledges with a strong hint of skepticism that the ETF could “broaden the addressable market for buying bitcoin”. Yet, he sees additional waiting ahead.

He told CoinDesk:

“The efforts to list such an ETF have been going on for three years, with no signs that any of issuers seeking approval are any closer than they were back then.”

A representative of Winklevoss Capital declined comment when reached about the timing of the SEC’s decision, citing regulatory restrictions. The SEC and BATS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Image Credit: Sky Cinema / Shutterstock.com

Cameron WinklevossTyler WinklevossWinklevoss Bitcoin Trust

Accountability and Transition in ICANN’s New gTLD Program

Bringing accountability to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the little known yet hugely significant global regulator of the Internet domain name system, is always a significant victory. ICANN is currently expanding new top level domain names (TLDs) beyond familiar TLDs such as .com and .edu to hundreds of new domain names under the new gTLD Program. These TLDs involve high-profile public interests and are valuable resources, with companies competing to pay tens of millions of dollars at auction to win the right to operate them.

To date, ICANN has collected more than US$240 million from auctioning new gTLDs. Yet ICANN insists in handling the assignment of TLDs in a single-handed and secretive manner. The process of seeking recourse against ICANN’s decisions has seemed a long-shot to many applicants. Of the 18 Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings brought to date to hold ICANN accountable for its actions, only three claimants have succeeded: ICM Registry (.XXX), DCA Trust (.AFRICA), and most recently Dot Registry (.LLC, .INC and .LLP). All three were represented by Dechert lawyers. The Final Declaration in Dot Registry LLC v ICANN, added a new dimension to ICANN’s accountability: ICANN cannot avoid its responsibilities by contracting with a third party to perform ICANN’s obligations. The Panel majority’s thorough analysis of ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms revealed ICANN’s profound lack of transparency and due diligence.

ICANN’s Background and Recent Developments

ICANN is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. ICANN operates under a contract from the United States Department of Commerce, and remains organized on a multi-stakeholder governance model. ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws set out the principles and rules by which ICANN is required to operate, including that ICANN must “operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole” in recognition of the fact that “the Internet is an international network of networks, owned by no single nation, individual or organization”. ICANN’s Bylaws contain independent directives protecting openness, transparency and procedural fairness as ICANN’s “Core Values”. ICANN’s actions are governed by international law. ICANN’s Bylaws also provide for internal and external accountability mechanisms to evaluate the decisions of ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors in light of ICANN’s global mandate and responsibility. The ultimate recourse for any complainant is to initiate an external accountability mechanism called an Independent Review Process (IRP), similar to an international arbitration, where disputes are heard by a Panel of independent arbitrators and administered by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the international arm of the American Arbitration Association. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN. ICANN is currently in the news as it controversially seeks to sever its contractual relationship with the U.S. Government and fully transition to independent stewardship of its core functions. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN.

The Facts in the Dot Registry Case

With the support of individual Secretaries of State and the National Association of the Secretaries of State, Dot Registry applied to ICANN for the TLDs .INC, .LLC and .LLP. In its applications, Dot Registry made commitments to operate the registries for these sensitive TLDs with verification mechanisms in place to protect against abuse and limit registrants to legally registered U.S. entities. Qualified community-based applicants that satisfy a set of criteria established by ICANN, like Dot Registry, are entitled to priority over competing applicants for TLDs; if community priority is not granted, a community applicant, like standard applicants, must try to resolve the contention with its competitors, with the last resort being an ICANN facilitated auction in which the TLD is awarded to the applicant who places the highest bid. ICANN assigned the evaluation of community applicants to a third party contractor, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the course of rejecting Dot Registry’s applications, the EIU misapplied the relevant standards, failed to act independently, did not conduct due diligence and discriminated against Dot Registry’s applications.

After Dot Registry exhausted ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms, Dot Registry initiated an IRP. The issues for the IRP Panel were (i) whether the EIU and ICANN Staff are bound by ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and (ii) whether ICANN (including its staff and affiliated parties, such as the EIU) had, in fact, complied with ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and gTLD Applicant Guidebook in its treatment of Dot Registry’s applications.

The Independent Panel’s Ruling

By a majority of 2-1 the IRP Panel, held that ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors were subject to the principles set-out in ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The majority of the Panel also rejected ICANN’s submissions that the Panel had to apply a deferential standard to evaluate ICANN’s actions, instead conducting a direct examination of ICANN’s actions. The majority specifically found that the “principles of fairness, transparency, avoiding potential conflicts of interest, and non-discrimination” embodied in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws extended to not only to ICANN’s Board, but the Board’s subcommittees, ICANN staff and the EIU. The decision is important because of its holding that ICANN staff and third-party contractors are also subject to the obligations set forth in ICANN’s governing documents.

Turning to the specifics of Dot Registry’s complaints, the majority accepted Dot Registry’s submission that ICANN’s internal accountability process amounted to merely a “rubber stamp”, pointedly noting that ICANN’s Board Governance Committee (BGC) not only had the obligation to conduct a meaningful review but the tools to do so. Further, the Panel took note of the fact that all the communications between the BGC and ICANN staff went in one direction, with the BGC choosing not to ask any questions or seemingly make any changes to ICANN staff’s prepared decisions. The Panel then went on to consider Dot Registry’s submissions on the absence of any evidence of due diligence, transparency and independent judgment, ultimately accepting all of Dot Registry’s contentions that ICANN had failed to comply with these requirements. The Panel also set out in detail the evidence demonstrating ICANN’s staff’s constant supervision of and interference in the work of the supposedly independent evaluator, the EIU. In short, the majority found that ICANN had failed to uphold the values enshrined in its own Bylaws in the treatment of Dot Registry’s applications. ICANN’s appointed arbitrator dissented.

Future Implications

The Declaration will have far reaching implications for the future of internet governance as whole, and will serve as a powerful precedent for holding ICANN’s Board, staff and third party contractors accountable. It clearly directs the ICANN Board to undertake reforms of ICANN’s internal accountability process, criticized by the Panel as a “rubber stamp”. ICANN’s Board will also have to consider carefully the implications of the Panel’s finding that decisions to delegate community TLDs are not actually being made by an independent expert, as applicants expected, but that ICANN staff are intimately involved in the process and ICANN clearly retains final control over whether or not to grant community status to particular TLDs. It is notable that ICANN has already enacted reforms to strengthen its accountability mechanisms, though many feel such reforms do not go far enough and ICANN continues to limit oversight and accountability, for example by creating a deferential standard of scrutiny under the business judgment rule. In short, as ICANN proceeds with the IANA transition, reform and restoring trust and confidence in ICANN remains indispensable.

Conclusion

As with the .XXX and .AFRICA IRPs, in which Arif Ali, co-chair of Dechert’s International Arbitration Group, was also the lead counsel and members of the Dechert ICANN team played prominent roles, the importance of the Dot Registry Panel’s decision lies in its recognition that ICANN, as the regulator of the Internet, a global resource, must be held accountable for its actions. Today, ICANN is pressing for the privilege to oversee Internet governance without oversight by the U.S. or any government. This privilege comes with immense responsibility and requires accountability. As ICANN enters into the next phase of its transition away from U.S. government oversight, the global internet community will be watching to see whether ICANN undertakes much needed reforms.

Ubuntu Founder Sets the Bar for Successful OpenStack Implementations

The real long-term test of any large-scale, modern infrastructure is an economic one, according to Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth, who serves as an advisor to Canonical, the open-source software company that delivers Ubuntu, said today at OpenStack East 2016 that the biggest driver of economics in the cloud will be operations, particularly how many processes a team can operate using OpenStack.

“This will determine success over the next five or 10 years,” Shuttleworth said.

Shuttleworth delivered a brief OpenStack demonstration designed to illustrate a simplified, model-driven approach to operations between multiple integrated applications. “There is more information about integration in the system than there is about raw apps,” he explained. “As a system grows more complex, your ability to model integration becomes more profound. In a model-driven world, you don’t want to do anything manually. Anything that can be modeled you want to model.”

Because of OpenStack, high-level, open-flow operations are possible, Shuttleworth said. This architecture is built to allow users to distill multiple actions into one action. Large companies that run multiple Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds in multiple environments can gain a birds-eye view of the underlying architecture that ties everything together.

Mark Shuttleworth in Space

Who Is Mark Shuttleworth?
To the tech world, Shuttleworth is best known for his work on open-source technology, but to the rest of the world, the South African-born renaissance man is probably better known as the first African to fly into space. He did this in 2002, with his own funding, after studying for seven months at the Yuri A Gagarin State Scientific Research and Testing Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.

Shuttleworth was able to afford that historic flight thanks to the money he made as the founder of Thawte, a consulting firm that built an e-commerce Web server that was the first to ever be fully encrypted. He sold the company to Verisign in 1995 for $565 million.

In 2000, he formed HBD (Here be Dragons) Venture Capital, a start-up incubator, and in 2004, he founded Canonical. Shuttleworth hinted last year that Canonical was looking into an initial public offering (IPO), but he later backtracked and said he would wait to see how the technological landscape shifted over the next few years before considering an IPO.

Today, Canonical employs 750 people in 42 countries around the world. Its day-to-day operations are managed by CEO Jane Silber.

Bitcoin-Tech Firm Thinks This Name Can Unify Wall Street Behind Blockchain

R3 CEV, a startup working to build new Wall Street infrastructure using “blockchain” technology, filed for a patent Tuesday covering software behind the new project.

The patent application is the New York firm’s first, shedding some light on what has so far been a widely followed but opaque firm.

R3, which launched in September 2015, named the project Concord for the harmony it hopes to build among more than 60 banks…

New gTLD Domain Name Map

Nominet

Nominet, the .uk registry, published a New gTLD domain name map that is designed like the London Underground map.

The map shows the Top 250 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) as at the 11th July 2016 with some selected brands taken from the Top 1000 list on nTLDStats.com plus .blog. Until recently, there was a limited set of domain name endings that could be registered. ICANN invited applications for new gTLDs in 2012 to increase the choice and 1,157 have been commissioned to date.

We’re in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of the spaces available online. In previous years, choice of online address was restricted to a few after-the-dot options: .com, .net and so on, alongside country-code domain names like .uk or .de. Now, the options are theoretically endless — from .london to .luxury, .bbc to .blog. Over 1,000 have launched to date.

Choosing a domain has always been about finding the right home on the web — selecting an address that will help boost your brand and give a sense of who you are. To help make sense of so many new options, we’ve developed a new take on the iconic London tube map using the top new domain extensions. Our map shows the 250 most popular (by domains under management) new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), alongside some of the best-known brands who have opted to establish their own after-the-dot space on the web.

There are over 23 million registrations under new gTLDs making them 7% of the 326.4 million total domain registrations. The top new gTLDs are .xyz, with around 6.4 million registrations (many of which were reportedly given away for free); .top, with around 3.2 million registrations; and .wang, which translates as the word ‘website’ in Chinese, with around 1.1 million registrations.

Like the London tube map on which our new gTLD map is based, the new gTLD landscape is likely to grow and change significantly in the coming years. (Compare a 1908 tube map with Harry Beck’s 1933 version and one today). We can guess at likely areas of expansion — whether they be growing markets in Asia or the rise of .brands — but it’s still early days. Being the internet, it’s likely there will be areas of innovation that no one has yet predicted. But given the huge growth in choice and opportunity, the domain landscape looks set to continue to be a vibrant and interesting space.

Click the image below to view the full map

new-gtld-map

Ubuntu Founder Sets the Bar for Successful OpenStack Implementations

The real long-term test of any large-scale, modern infrastructure is an economic one, according to Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth, who serves as an advisor to Canonical, the open-source software company that delivers Ubuntu, said today at OpenStack East 2016 that the biggest driver of economics in the cloud will be operations, particularly how many processes a team can operate using OpenStack.

“This will determine success over the next five or 10 years,” Shuttleworth said.

Shuttleworth delivered a brief OpenStack demonstration designed to illustrate a simplified, model-driven approach to operations between multiple integrated applications. “There is more information about integration in the system than there is about raw apps,” he explained. “As a system grows more complex, your ability to model integration becomes more profound. In a model-driven world, you don’t want to do anything manually. Anything that can be modeled you want to model.”

Because of OpenStack, high-level, open-flow operations are possible, Shuttleworth said. This architecture is built to allow users to distill multiple actions into one action. Large companies that run multiple Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds in multiple environments can gain a birds-eye view of the underlying architecture that ties everything together.

Mark Shuttleworth in Space

Who Is Mark Shuttleworth?
To the tech world, Shuttleworth is best known for his work on open-source technology, but to the rest of the world, the South African-born renaissance man is probably better known as the first African to fly into space. He did this in 2002, with his own funding, after studying for seven months at the Yuri A Gagarin State Scientific Research and Testing Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.

Shuttleworth was able to afford that historic flight thanks to the money he made as the founder of Thawte, a consulting firm that built an e-commerce Web server that was the first to ever be fully encrypted. He sold the company to Verisign in 1995 for $565 million.

In 2000, he formed HBD (Here be Dragons) Venture Capital, a start-up incubator, and in 2004, he founded Canonical. Shuttleworth hinted last year that Canonical was looking into an initial public offering (IPO), but he later backtracked and said he would wait to see how the technological landscape shifted over the next few years before considering an IPO.

Today, Canonical employs 750 people in 42 countries around the world. Its day-to-day operations are managed by CEO Jane Silber.

Bitfury Research Shines Light on Bitcoin Privacy Weaknesses

flashlight, night

A new Bitfury white paper aims to advance the study of how bitcoins sent using certain privacy-enhancing techniques could be traced back to participants.

Released today, “Shared Send Untangling in Bitcoin” explores how bitcoins in this type of transaction can be “untangled”, or sorted, into their original value flows. Shared send transactions originate when users organize into groups, by way of an intermediary, in order to obfuscate how funds may be moving between wallets.

“We establish a theoretical approach to shared send transaction analysis, which formulates the transaction untangling problem in terms of the graph theory. We also describe several practically important modifications to the untangling problem,” the paper states.

Of note are its implications for CoinJoin and CoinSwap, algorithms that mix transactions inputs and outputs, and that were seen as advances in bringing privacy to the open, public blockchain that records bitcoin transactions.

The research is also the latest by Bitfury that demonstrates its willingness to expand beyond bitcoin mining, following a report in July that sought to solve challenges related to the Lightning Network, an in-development bitcoin micropayments platform.

According to the company, the findings will serve to inform the “Bitfury Crystal Blockchain”, a forthcoming web service for blockchain investigation and analysis.

A spokesperson for the startup said:

“We are looking to solve hard technical problems that we can commercialize. What we’re doing with this project is something that we think we can monetize.”

The work comes at a time when blockchain analytics tools are increasingly in demand from financial institutions seeking to interact with industry businesses.

Startups like Chainalysis, Elliptic and Skry, for instance, have all so far moved to capitalize on demand from industries and governments, though Bitfury would be the best capitalized firm to enter the market.

The research does not explore “shared coin services”, tools that send bitcoins to an intermediary and in which the process of sending and receiving an intended transaction is divided into several transactions.

Transaction definitions

As part of this effort, Bitfury’s researchers spend much of the report seeking to define shared send transactions, a process that involved categorizing transactions observed on the blockchain in a way that provided more nuance to the interactions studied.

The white paper divides transactions into four types, the most basic of which are wallet-to-wallet transactions and separable transactions, or those that can be split into “subsets” of money flows.

Ambiguous transactions (those observed to have at least two separate money flows) and intractable transactions (those whose category cannot be determined) are among the more complex and potentially challenging from a compliance perspective.

“People who aren’t involved in this transaction can’t say which people sent the money,” a researcher explained.

In total, Bitfury said it analyzed 10 million bitcoin transactions that took place between 27th May and 11th July of this year, finding that just 2.5% were ‘intractable’.

“Shared send transactions constitute approximately 13.5% of all studied bitcoin transactions. Of these, about 82% are simple transactions, ~9.6% are separable, and ~6.3% are ambiguous,” the report reads.

In comments, researchers involved with the project noted that intractable transactions don’t technically exist, as should there be a proper analysis, it could always be sorted into one of the three classes.

‘Nefarious actors’

Long term, the Bitfury team wasn’t shy about stating that the tool is intended for use by firms that want to ensure they are transacting in a compliant manner.

“Ultimately we’re seeking to make the blockchain more secure by ensuring it’s used for good purposes, not nefarious actors,” a spokesperson said.

The paper, however, cautioned that shared send transactions aren’t necessarily the result of a mixing service meant to hide illicit actions, and that hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallets, those that derive keys from a single seed, can be sorted into this category.

“In this paper, we think of the problem and ask, ‘What kind of transactions are there?'” a researcher said.

Representatives of the company said the paper should be thought of as Bitfury’s “first step” in advancing work in this part of the field, but that more research in this area is likely.

The full white paper can be found below:

Bitfury-Shared Send Untangling in Bitcoin-20160821 by CoinDesk

Image via Shutterstock

BitFuryResearch

New gTLD Domain Name Map – OnlineDomain.com

Nominet

Nominet, the .uk registry, published a New gTLD domain name map that is designed like the London Underground map.

The map shows the Top 250 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) as at the 11th July 2016 with some selected brands taken from the Top 1000 list on nTLDStats.com plus .blog. Until recently, there was a limited set of domain name endings that could be registered. ICANN invited applications for new gTLDs in 2012 to increase the choice and 1,157 have been commissioned to date.

We’re in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of the spaces available online. In previous years, choice of online address was restricted to a few after-the-dot options: .com, .net and so on, alongside country-code domain names like .uk or .de. Now, the options are theoretically endless — from .london to .luxury, .bbc to .blog. Over 1,000 have launched to date.

Choosing a domain has always been about finding the right home on the web — selecting an address that will help boost your brand and give a sense of who you are. To help make sense of so many new options, we’ve developed a new take on the iconic London tube map using the top new domain extensions. Our map shows the 250 most popular (by domains under management) new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), alongside some of the best-known brands who have opted to establish their own after-the-dot space on the web.

There are over 23 million registrations under new gTLDs making them 7% of the 326.4 million total domain registrations. The top new gTLDs are .xyz, with around 6.4 million registrations (many of which were reportedly given away for free); .top, with around 3.2 million registrations; and .wang, which translates as the word ‘website’ in Chinese, with around 1.1 million registrations.

Like the London tube map on which our new gTLD map is based, the new gTLD landscape is likely to grow and change significantly in the coming years. (Compare a 1908 tube map with Harry Beck’s 1933 version and one today). We can guess at likely areas of expansion — whether they be growing markets in Asia or the rise of .brands — but it’s still early days. Being the internet, it’s likely there will be areas of innovation that no one has yet predicted. But given the huge growth in choice and opportunity, the domain landscape looks set to continue to be a vibrant and interesting space.

Click the image below to view the full map

new-gtld-map

Artist Sylvia Ritter Painted All 25 Ubuntu Linux Mascots and They’re Astonishing – Exclusive

Artist Sylvia Ritter happily informs Softpedia about the availability of 25 wallpapers for mobile phones and tablet devices illustrating her vision of the mascots used for all the Ubuntu Linux operating system releases.

It’s not the first time we talk here about Sylvia Ritter, as back in March 2016 we published a story with the Ubuntu Linux wallpapers she managed to paint using the powerful, open-source, and cross-platform Krita digital painting software, but now Mrs. Ritter finished this unique project and unleashed all 25 Ubuntu mascots, or animals as she likes to call them.

“Hello Softpedia! I’ve just painted all 25 Ubuntu animals. They are also great phone and tablet wallpapers,” says Sylvia Ritter in an email, exclusively for Softpedia. “All known 25 animals have just been completed, starting with the Warty Warthog (Ubuntu 4.10) and finishing with the latest release, Yakkety Yak (16.10). The series will likely continue when the Ubuntu community announces the next release name for Ubuntu 17.04.”

As you might know, every new Ubuntu release has a code name, and it’s based on a real animal, except for Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) and Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf), which are inspired by fictional characters. Sylvia Ritter is a huge fan of the open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system and loves to paint animals of all kinds, so this was her opportunity of creating a series of astonishing wallpapers you can use on your smartphone or tablet.

Here are all the Ubuntu Linux mascots painted by Sylvia Ritter

Below, we’ve listed all the 25 wallpapers in the order of the launch of each Ubuntu OS. They are Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog), Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog), Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger), Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake), Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft), Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn), Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron), Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex), Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), and Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala).

The list of Ubuntu Linux release continues with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx), Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat), Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal), Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot), Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin), Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal), Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail), Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander), Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn), Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet), Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak).

Yakkety Yak
Utopic Unicorn

Accountability and Transition in ICANN’s New gTLD Program

Bringing accountability to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the little known yet hugely significant global regulator of the Internet domain name system, is always a significant victory. ICANN is currently expanding new top level domain names (TLDs) beyond familiar TLDs such as .com and .edu to hundreds of new domain names under the new gTLD Program. These TLDs involve high-profile public interests and are valuable resources, with companies competing to pay tens of millions of dollars at auction to win the right to operate them.

To date, ICANN has collected more than US$240 million from auctioning new gTLDs. Yet ICANN insists in handling the assignment of TLDs in a single-handed and secretive manner. The process of seeking recourse against ICANN’s decisions has seemed a long-shot to many applicants. Of the 18 Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings brought to date to hold ICANN accountable for its actions, only three claimants have succeeded: ICM Registry (.XXX), DCA Trust (.AFRICA), and most recently Dot Registry (.LLC, .INC and .LLP). All three were represented by Dechert lawyers. The Final Declaration in Dot Registry LLC v ICANN, added a new dimension to ICANN’s accountability: ICANN cannot avoid its responsibilities by contracting with a third party to perform ICANN’s obligations. The Panel majority’s thorough analysis of ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms revealed ICANN’s profound lack of transparency and due diligence.

ICANN’s Background and Recent Developments

ICANN is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. ICANN operates under a contract from the United States Department of Commerce, and remains organized on a multi-stakeholder governance model. ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws set out the principles and rules by which ICANN is required to operate, including that ICANN must “operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole” in recognition of the fact that “the Internet is an international network of networks, owned by no single nation, individual or organization”. ICANN’s Bylaws contain independent directives protecting openness, transparency and procedural fairness as ICANN’s “Core Values”. ICANN’s actions are governed by international law. ICANN’s Bylaws also provide for internal and external accountability mechanisms to evaluate the decisions of ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors in light of ICANN’s global mandate and responsibility. The ultimate recourse for any complainant is to initiate an external accountability mechanism called an Independent Review Process (IRP), similar to an international arbitration, where disputes are heard by a Panel of independent arbitrators and administered by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the international arm of the American Arbitration Association. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN. ICANN is currently in the news as it controversially seeks to sever its contractual relationship with the U.S. Government and fully transition to independent stewardship of its core functions. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN.

The Facts in the Dot Registry Case

With the support of individual Secretaries of State and the National Association of the Secretaries of State, Dot Registry applied to ICANN for the TLDs .INC, .LLC and .LLP. In its applications, Dot Registry made commitments to operate the registries for these sensitive TLDs with verification mechanisms in place to protect against abuse and limit registrants to legally registered U.S. entities. Qualified community-based applicants that satisfy a set of criteria established by ICANN, like Dot Registry, are entitled to priority over competing applicants for TLDs; if community priority is not granted, a community applicant, like standard applicants, must try to resolve the contention with its competitors, with the last resort being an ICANN facilitated auction in which the TLD is awarded to the applicant who places the highest bid. ICANN assigned the evaluation of community applicants to a third party contractor, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the course of rejecting Dot Registry’s applications, the EIU misapplied the relevant standards, failed to act independently, did not conduct due diligence and discriminated against Dot Registry’s applications.

After Dot Registry exhausted ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms, Dot Registry initiated an IRP. The issues for the IRP Panel were (i) whether the EIU and ICANN Staff are bound by ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and (ii) whether ICANN (including its staff and affiliated parties, such as the EIU) had, in fact, complied with ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and gTLD Applicant Guidebook in its treatment of Dot Registry’s applications.

The Independent Panel’s Ruling

By a majority of 2-1 the IRP Panel, held that ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors were subject to the principles set-out in ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The majority of the Panel also rejected ICANN’s submissions that the Panel had to apply a deferential standard to evaluate ICANN’s actions, instead conducting a direct examination of ICANN’s actions. The majority specifically found that the “principles of fairness, transparency, avoiding potential conflicts of interest, and non-discrimination” embodied in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws extended to not only to ICANN’s Board, but the Board’s subcommittees, ICANN staff and the EIU. The decision is important because of its holding that ICANN staff and third-party contractors are also subject to the obligations set forth in ICANN’s governing documents.

Turning to the specifics of Dot Registry’s complaints, the majority accepted Dot Registry’s submission that ICANN’s internal accountability process amounted to merely a “rubber stamp”, pointedly noting that ICANN’s Board Governance Committee (BGC) not only had the obligation to conduct a meaningful review but the tools to do so. Further, the Panel took note of the fact that all the communications between the BGC and ICANN staff went in one direction, with the BGC choosing not to ask any questions or seemingly make any changes to ICANN staff’s prepared decisions. The Panel then went on to consider Dot Registry’s submissions on the absence of any evidence of due diligence, transparency and independent judgment, ultimately accepting all of Dot Registry’s contentions that ICANN had failed to comply with these requirements. The Panel also set out in detail the evidence demonstrating ICANN’s staff’s constant supervision of and interference in the work of the supposedly independent evaluator, the EIU. In short, the majority found that ICANN had failed to uphold the values enshrined in its own Bylaws in the treatment of Dot Registry’s applications. ICANN’s appointed arbitrator dissented.

Future Implications

The Declaration will have far reaching implications for the future of internet governance as whole, and will serve as a powerful precedent for holding ICANN’s Board, staff and third party contractors accountable. It clearly directs the ICANN Board to undertake reforms of ICANN’s internal accountability process, criticized by the Panel as a “rubber stamp”. ICANN’s Board will also have to consider carefully the implications of the Panel’s finding that decisions to delegate community TLDs are not actually being made by an independent expert, as applicants expected, but that ICANN staff are intimately involved in the process and ICANN clearly retains final control over whether or not to grant community status to particular TLDs. It is notable that ICANN has already enacted reforms to strengthen its accountability mechanisms, though many feel such reforms do not go far enough and ICANN continues to limit oversight and accountability, for example by creating a deferential standard of scrutiny under the business judgment rule. In short, as ICANN proceeds with the IANA transition, reform and restoring trust and confidence in ICANN remains indispensable.

Conclusion

As with the .XXX and .AFRICA IRPs, in which Arif Ali, co-chair of Dechert’s International Arbitration Group, was also the lead counsel and members of the Dechert ICANN team played prominent roles, the importance of the Dot Registry Panel’s decision lies in its recognition that ICANN, as the regulator of the Internet, a global resource, must be held accountable for its actions. Today, ICANN is pressing for the privilege to oversee Internet governance without oversight by the U.S. or any government. This privilege comes with immense responsibility and requires accountability. As ICANN enters into the next phase of its transition away from U.S. government oversight, the global internet community will be watching to see whether ICANN undertakes much needed reforms.

Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) Now in Feature Freeze, First Beta to Land August 25

Ubuntu and Debian developer Iain Lane informed the Ubuntu community that the upcoming Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system is in Feature Freeze as of August 18, 2016.

The Feature Freeze development stage means that no new features will be implemented in the upcoming OS, and the development team should now concentrate all of their efforts on fixing the remaining bugs before the final release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) hits the streets on October 13, 2016.

“In true “better late than never” fashion, Yakkety is now in Feature Freeze. Ideally you will all now be focusing on bug fixing and not on getting new features into the release. This will let us create a solid and well-groomed Yak in October that we’ll all want to take a ride on for the following nine months,” says Iain Lane in the announcement.

Yakkety Beta 1 Freeze and release for opt-in flavors set for August 25

We’re approaching very fast to the first Beta release of Ubuntu 16.10, which has been in development since April 28 this year, and it looks like the Beta 1 freeze and release has been set for this coming Thursday, August 25, but will only be available for opt-in flavors like Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu GNOME, and Xubuntu.

After that, the development cycle of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) will continue with a second and last Beta build, also known as the Final Beta, where Ubuntu itself will also participate with 64-bit and 32-bit Live ISO images available for download to public beta testers. The final release of Ubuntu 16.10 is coming October 13, 2016, for desktop, server, and cloud, while the mobile version, Ubuntu Touch, migrates to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Is bitcoin the answer if traditional investments are letting you down?

Looking at the negligible returns offered on cash investments, Edward Cunningham started searching for alternatives. Instead of going to the stock market or buying up gold bars, however, the 45-year-old from Sherborne in Dorset turned to the internet, and last September invested in the digital currency bitcoin. Since then his stake has more than doubled.

Bitcoin is a paperless, bankless, stateless currency which exists on computers, and carries with it a whiff of peril for investors. Cunningham admits to being nervous when he first signed up to trade in the currency, especially when he had to make his first deposit via a bank in Estonia. “It all turned out well and I bought my first coins for $225 each, well below today’s price of around $575,” he says.

The price of bitcoin has fluctuated wildly since it was launched in 2009. Six years ago, two pizzas were bought for 10,000 bitcoin. By 2013, each bitcoin peaked in value at $1,000.

Coupled with these enormous peaks and troughs have been hacking controversies. Earlier this month almost 120,000 bitcoin, worth around $78m, were stolen from Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, causing a 20% drop in the value of the currency.

Investor Edward Cunningham is confident in his bitcoin holdings

Despite such drops Cunningham is ahead on his investment and feels positive about the currency, which is now being used for payment by companies such as Tesla and Microsoft, and is confident his investment will grow further. So, is it time for others to follow his cryptocurrency lead?

What exactly is bitcoin?

Started by a small group of hackers, bitcoin is unlike traditional currencies in that it has no central bank, nation state or regulatory authority backing it up.

The coins themselves are made by computers solving a set of complex maths problems, and people who use their computers to make coins and record transactions are called miners.

To spend it, users buy bitcoin and transact using exchanges such as San Francisco-based Coinbase. Rather than a central authority validating transactions, they are all recorded on a public ledger, called the blockchain.

Bitcoin has a finite supply of 21m of which more than 15m are in circulation, which supporters claim make it more stable than government-backed currencies that can be devalued by central banks printing money. They say this means its value will only rise over time, with some claiming the price could top $10,000 a coin. Bitcoin first came to the attention of many people after it was used on the online black market site Silk Road, known as a platform for selling illegal drugs.

“The coins are ‘manufactured’ using cryptography, which is spooky to most people. Bitcoin is also a reasonably anonymous way to carry out large cross-border money transfers, so has inevitably become linked to illegal goods and services,” says Dave Hrycyszyn, of digital agency Head, which advises companies on new technologies.

The lack of regulation appeals to some, but also means it has none of the stability mechanisms typically associated with a currency, which can make it volatile, he said.

How do I buy it?

Bitcoin is bought via online exchanges and platforms, with an increasing number of UK options. Fractions or “bits” can be bought instead of a whole bitcoin. Investment can start with as little as $10 on some sites. Bitcoin exchanges and brokers include Coinfloor, CoinCorner and QuickBitcoin. Transaction fees vary according to the exchange or broker, but typically range from 0.2%-1% of the currency bought, plus bank transaction charges. Fees of up to 1% can apply on sales.

Bitcoin are stored in a “digital wallet”, which can also manage transactions. It exists either in the cloud or on computers, and can be linked to bank accounts. If using an online wallet , investors must be sure they can trust the provider, because if hackers breach its server’s security measures the bitcoin could be stolen.

Typically, you can pay by bank transfer, mobile payments or with a Visa or Mastercard. There are also bitcoin ATMs, which allow for bitcoin to be exchanged for cash and vice versa, in London, Bristol, Brighton and Glasgow.

What can you buy with it?

A growing list of firms accept Bitcoin, including Tesla, Microsoft, CheapAir.com and Britain’s first bitcoin pub, The Pembury Tavern in Hackney, London, where a pint of Milton Pegasus costs £3.70 or 0.0084 bitcoin.

Obi Nwosu, managing director of Coinfloor, says you can spend it wherever you see the “bitcoin accepted here” sign, either online or at local stores, with no transaction charges. “You can pay using a bitcoin wallet app, and can even get bitcoin debit cards that you can use anywhere that accepts Mastercard or Visa.”

You can also cash in your coins at any time and get real currency in return, for a small broker fee, he adds.

Should I invest in it?

Bitcoin has grown strongly but with plenty of volatility along the way. Over the past 12 months its price has risen from $220 to $575, according to figures from Coindesk – a return of 161%. It has also shown resilience, with the price rallying after the Bitfinex hack. Yet it remains well below its all-time spike of $979.45, which it hit on 25 November 2013. In short, this is not a safe haven: despite excitable claims the price could hit $10,000, where it goes next is anybody’s guess, so investors should approach with caution.

Lex Deak, chief executive of alternative investment aggregator Off3r, says investing in Bitcoin isn’t for the fainthearted. “You should only invest a small proportion of your money and be prepared for massive swings in value.”

The early gold rush days are over, he adds, and buyers shouldn’t treat it as a get-rich-quick scheme. “You could double your money within a year, but you could easily lose it all,” he says.

Marc Warne, the founder of Bittylicious, a site where bitcoins can be bought, says novice investors should start modestly. “Just buy a small amount to begin with, say £30, to learn how it works, how to trade it, and how to handle it safely in a wallet,” he says. He advises against investing large sums unless you really understand crypto currencies and computer security.

As bitcoin has a finite supply, future price movement will depend on demand, Warne says. “Bitcoin will be used more in the future because it’s the first time that something not fully controlled by any entity like a government or bank has been used over the internet. It has been around for about seven years now without any fundamental issues.”

Is it safe?

Bitcoin cannot be hacked, manipulated or altered, but exchanges or digital wallets are vulnerable, just like online bank accounts, Warne says. “If you hold bitcoin in any form you instantly become a target,” he adds.

Since bitcoin doesn’t actually exist, what is stored in the wallet are the secure digital keys used to access specific details of the bitcoin. The private key is a secret code which allows the user to prove ownership of their bitcoin. Wallets can be installed on smartphones using an app or web-based wallets can be run by currency exchanges. Buyers need to make sure their computer’s security is up to scratch, and must also trust the exchange, which needs high-level security to prevent hacking.

James Hill, software developer at consultancy Scott Logic, says the core blockchain algorithm, which underpins all cryptocurrencies, remains secure. He says the real danger comes from losing the keys that prove buyers own their own coins.

If you are hacked, there is no way of claiming a refund from a bank or regulatory authority because none exists.

Word of warning

Hrycyszyn warns that, as with all technology, something better may one day come along. “When that happens, bitcoin’s value could collapse to near-zero, probably in a matter of hours or minutes, in a spectacular ball of flames. It has no support structure to prop it up, like a normal currency does. Do not treat this as a long-term store of value to fund your retirement.”

Damien Fahy, founder of website MoneytotheMasses, says it will remain a fringe investment until it is officially recognised and regulated. “Ordinary currency investing is risky enough, but bitcoin is even riskier.”

BUYING AND SELLING

Step 1 Set up a bitcoin wallet. You need somewhere to store the private keys that allow you to spend or exchange bitcoin. Security is vital, so check how your money is protected – otherwise you could lose all of it. Otherwise, this is similar to opening an ordinary bank account.

Step 2 Get your bitcoin address. Once you have signed up and accepted the user agreement you will get a bitcoin address, a unique identifier of 26-35 numbers and letters, beginning with the number 1 or 3, which is the destination for a bitcoin payment.

Step 3 Buy bitcoin. You can make your purchase through your wallet or a range of brokers and platforms. These are digital rather than physical coins. Input your bitcoin address, the amount of money you want to convert, how you plan to pay, and so on. You typically have to pay a fee of between 0.2% and 1%, depending on the site, plus a small bank transfer fee.

Step 4 Make a payment. Once you have bitcoin in your account you can start making payments. You will need the bitcoin address of the recipient.

Step 5 Sell bitcoin. If you want to cash in your bitcoin, or bank a profit, selling is pretty straightforward. You can register to sell direct on sites through an online exchange or platforms such as Coinbase, Coinfloor, BitBargain or Bittylicious. Again, there are transaction fees up to about 1% of your trade.

Accountability and Transition in ICANN’s New gTLD Program

Bringing accountability to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the little known yet hugely significant global regulator of the Internet domain name system, is always a significant victory. ICANN is currently expanding new top level domain names (TLDs) beyond familiar TLDs such as .com and .edu to hundreds of new domain names under the new gTLD Program. These TLDs involve high-profile public interests and are valuable resources, with companies competing to pay tens of millions of dollars at auction to win the right to operate them.

To date, ICANN has collected more than US$240 million from auctioning new gTLDs. Yet ICANN insists in handling the assignment of TLDs in a single-handed and secretive manner. The process of seeking recourse against ICANN’s decisions has seemed a long-shot to many applicants. Of the 18 Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings brought to date to hold ICANN accountable for its actions, only three claimants have succeeded: ICM Registry (.XXX), DCA Trust (.AFRICA), and most recently Dot Registry (.LLC, .INC and .LLP). All three were represented by Dechert lawyers. The Final Declaration in Dot Registry LLC v ICANN, added a new dimension to ICANN’s accountability: ICANN cannot avoid its responsibilities by contracting with a third party to perform ICANN’s obligations. The Panel majority’s thorough analysis of ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms revealed ICANN’s profound lack of transparency and due diligence.

ICANN’s Background and Recent Developments

ICANN is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. ICANN operates under a contract from the United States Department of Commerce, and remains organized on a multi-stakeholder governance model. ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws set out the principles and rules by which ICANN is required to operate, including that ICANN must “operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole” in recognition of the fact that “the Internet is an international network of networks, owned by no single nation, individual or organization”. ICANN’s Bylaws contain independent directives protecting openness, transparency and procedural fairness as ICANN’s “Core Values”. ICANN’s actions are governed by international law. ICANN’s Bylaws also provide for internal and external accountability mechanisms to evaluate the decisions of ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors in light of ICANN’s global mandate and responsibility. The ultimate recourse for any complainant is to initiate an external accountability mechanism called an Independent Review Process (IRP), similar to an international arbitration, where disputes are heard by a Panel of independent arbitrators and administered by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the international arm of the American Arbitration Association. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN. ICANN is currently in the news as it controversially seeks to sever its contractual relationship with the U.S. Government and fully transition to independent stewardship of its core functions. Although disputed by ICANN, the decisions are binding on ICANN.

The Facts in the Dot Registry Case

With the support of individual Secretaries of State and the National Association of the Secretaries of State, Dot Registry applied to ICANN for the TLDs .INC, .LLC and .LLP. In its applications, Dot Registry made commitments to operate the registries for these sensitive TLDs with verification mechanisms in place to protect against abuse and limit registrants to legally registered U.S. entities. Qualified community-based applicants that satisfy a set of criteria established by ICANN, like Dot Registry, are entitled to priority over competing applicants for TLDs; if community priority is not granted, a community applicant, like standard applicants, must try to resolve the contention with its competitors, with the last resort being an ICANN facilitated auction in which the TLD is awarded to the applicant who places the highest bid. ICANN assigned the evaluation of community applicants to a third party contractor, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the course of rejecting Dot Registry’s applications, the EIU misapplied the relevant standards, failed to act independently, did not conduct due diligence and discriminated against Dot Registry’s applications.

After Dot Registry exhausted ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms, Dot Registry initiated an IRP. The issues for the IRP Panel were (i) whether the EIU and ICANN Staff are bound by ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and (ii) whether ICANN (including its staff and affiliated parties, such as the EIU) had, in fact, complied with ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and gTLD Applicant Guidebook in its treatment of Dot Registry’s applications.

The Independent Panel’s Ruling

By a majority of 2-1 the IRP Panel, held that ICANN’s Board, staff and external contractors were subject to the principles set-out in ICANN’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The majority of the Panel also rejected ICANN’s submissions that the Panel had to apply a deferential standard to evaluate ICANN’s actions, instead conducting a direct examination of ICANN’s actions. The majority specifically found that the “principles of fairness, transparency, avoiding potential conflicts of interest, and non-discrimination” embodied in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws extended to not only to ICANN’s Board, but the Board’s subcommittees, ICANN staff and the EIU. The decision is important because of its holding that ICANN staff and third-party contractors are also subject to the obligations set forth in ICANN’s governing documents.

Turning to the specifics of Dot Registry’s complaints, the majority accepted Dot Registry’s submission that ICANN’s internal accountability process amounted to merely a “rubber stamp”, pointedly noting that ICANN’s Board Governance Committee (BGC) not only had the obligation to conduct a meaningful review but the tools to do so. Further, the Panel took note of the fact that all the communications between the BGC and ICANN staff went in one direction, with the BGC choosing not to ask any questions or seemingly make any changes to ICANN staff’s prepared decisions. The Panel then went on to consider Dot Registry’s submissions on the absence of any evidence of due diligence, transparency and independent judgment, ultimately accepting all of Dot Registry’s contentions that ICANN had failed to comply with these requirements. The Panel also set out in detail the evidence demonstrating ICANN’s staff’s constant supervision of and interference in the work of the supposedly independent evaluator, the EIU. In short, the majority found that ICANN had failed to uphold the values enshrined in its own Bylaws in the treatment of Dot Registry’s applications. ICANN’s appointed arbitrator dissented.

Future Implications

The Declaration will have far reaching implications for the future of internet governance as whole, and will serve as a powerful precedent for holding ICANN’s Board, staff and third party contractors accountable. It clearly directs the ICANN Board to undertake reforms of ICANN’s internal accountability process, criticized by the Panel as a “rubber stamp”. ICANN’s Board will also have to consider carefully the implications of the Panel’s finding that decisions to delegate community TLDs are not actually being made by an independent expert, as applicants expected, but that ICANN staff are intimately involved in the process and ICANN clearly retains final control over whether or not to grant community status to particular TLDs. It is notable that ICANN has already enacted reforms to strengthen its accountability mechanisms, though many feel such reforms do not go far enough and ICANN continues to limit oversight and accountability, for example by creating a deferential standard of scrutiny under the business judgment rule. In short, as ICANN proceeds with the IANA transition, reform and restoring trust and confidence in ICANN remains indispensable.

Conclusion

As with the .XXX and .AFRICA IRPs, in which Arif Ali, co-chair of Dechert’s International Arbitration Group, was also the lead counsel and members of the Dechert ICANN team played prominent roles, the importance of the Dot Registry Panel’s decision lies in its recognition that ICANN, as the regulator of the Internet, a global resource, must be held accountable for its actions. Today, ICANN is pressing for the privilege to oversee Internet governance without oversight by the U.S. or any government. This privilege comes with immense responsibility and requires accountability. As ICANN enters into the next phase of its transition away from U.S. government oversight, the global internet community will be watching to see whether ICANN undertakes much needed reforms.

Intel’s New Joule IoT Development Board Is Powered by Snappy Ubuntu Core

Canonical, through Amrisha Prashar, has had the pleasure of announcing that their popular Snappy Ubuntu Core operating system is now available for Intel’s recently launched Joule development board.

Yes, you’re reading it right, Intel released an IoT (Internet of Things) single-board computer (see the attached image to see what’s included in the retail package) and Canonical is always on top of things making its Ubuntu Snappy Core operating system compatible with the latest development boards and embedded devices.

“The new Intel Joule is a powerful board targeted at IoT and robotics makers and runs Ubuntu for a smooth development experience. It’s also affordable and compact enough to be used in deployment, therefore Ubuntu Core can be installed to make any device it’s included in secure and up to date … wherever it is!” reads the announcement.

Intel Joule-powered Turtlebot robot runs ROS on Ubuntu Snappy Core

Of course, Intel Joule also supports ROS (Robot Operating System), which provides all the required tools and libraries a software developer needs to create robot applications for devices that are powered by the Intel Joule development board. Mixing ROS with Ubuntu Snappy Core makes the development process smoother than ever.

On this occasion, we would also like to inform the reader that the Snappy Ubuntu Core operating system is a stripped down version of popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, and it’s being targeted at autonomous machines, embedded devices and other internet-connected digital things (a.k.a. IoT devices), such as drones, home robots, and A.I. kits.

You can find out more about the Snappy Ubuntu Core operating system via its official homepage, where you’ll be able to download the latest version and install it on your new Intel Joule development board. In the meantime, check out the video demo below to see the Intel Joule-powered Turtlebot robot running ROS on Ubuntu Snappy Core.

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